IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Wage-hours contracts, overtime working and premium pay


  • Hart, Robert A.
  • Ma, Yue


This paper offers a contract-based theory to explain the determination of standard hours, overtime hours and overtime premium pay. We expand on the wage contract literature that emphasises the role of firm-specific human capital and that explores problems of contract efficiency in the face of information asymmetries between the firm and the worker. We first explore a simple wage-hours contract without overtime and show that incorporating hours into the contract may itself produce efficiency gains. We then show how the introduction of overtime hours, remunerated at premium rates, can further improve contract efficiency. Our modelling outcomes in respect of the relationship between the overtime premium and the standard wage rate relate closely to earlier developments in hedonic wage theory. Throughout, we emphasise the intuitive reasoning behind the theory and we also supply relevant empirical evidence. Mathematical derivations are provided in an Appendix.

Suggested Citation

  • Hart, Robert A. & Ma, Yue, 2010. "Wage-hours contracts, overtime working and premium pay," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 170-179, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:17:y:2010:i:1:p:170-179

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Masanori Hashimoto & Ben T. Yu, 1980. "Specific Capital, Employmemt Contracts, and Wage Rigidity," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 536-549, Autumn.
    2. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-620, September.
    3. Hall, Robert E & Lazear, Edward P, 1984. "The Excess Sensitivity of Layoffs and Quits to Demand," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 233-257, April.
    4. Hart,Robert A., 2004. "The Economics of Overtime Working," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521801423, March.
    5. Hashimoto, Masanori, 1981. "Firm-Specific Human Capital as a Shared Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 475-482, June.
    6. Trejo, Stephen J, 1991. "The Effects of Overtime Pay Regulation on Worker Compensation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 719-740, September.
    7. Kinoshita, Tomio, 1987. "Working Hours and Hedonic Wages in the Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1262-1277, December.
    8. Malcomson, James M., 1999. "Individual employment contracts," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 35, pages 2291-2372 Elsevier.
    9. Lorne Carmichael, 1983. "Firm-Specific Human Capital and Promotion Ladders," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(1), pages 251-258, Spring.
    10. F. P. R. Brechling, 1965. "The Relationship between Output and Employment in British Manufacturing Industries," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 187-216.
    11. Trejo, Stephen J, 1993. "Overtime Pay, Overtime Hours, and Labor Unions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(2), pages 253-278, April.
    12. Hutchens, Robert M, 1989. "Seniority, Wages and Productivity: A Turbulent Decade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 49-64, Fall.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hart, Robert A. & Ma, Yue, 2013. "Overtime Working and Contract Efficiency," IZA Discussion Papers 7560, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Bell, David N.F. & Hart, Robert A., 2010. "Retire Later or Work Harder?," IZA Discussion Papers 4720, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Singer, Marcos & Obach, Juan José, 2013. "Listening to workers: The overtime versus hiring dilemma," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1771-1779.

    More about this item


    Wage-hours contracts Overtime Premium pay Specific human capital Asymmetric information;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:17:y:2010:i:1:p:170-179. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.